Why Is Lumber So Expensive?

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Confused About the Cost of Lumber?

If you are a contractor or looking to complete a few DIY projects, you may be having trouble finding lumber or you are shocked at the cost of quoted lumber. However, the combination of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and the unprecedented wildfires on the West Coast have resulted in extraordinary price increases for lumber. Since the beginning of 2020, lumber prices have more than doubled. Find out more about why this increase in price has occurred and what factors are likely to exacerbate both demand and price of lumber.

Why Is Lumber Expensive Right Now?

While lumber demand was expected to fall because of the pandemic, the opposite happened. Homeowners who were planning summer vacations canceled those vacations and decided to invest the money instead into home improvement projects. However, the pandemic delayed production, especially of pressure-treated wood, due to stay-at-home orders across the nation. With the increase of DIY home improvement projects and the delays related to production, demand and price have skyrocketed– and that was before the fires. Demand for lumber is up between 10 and 20 percent compared to before the COVID pandemic.

Prices Continue to Rise

Some products are rising more than others. For example, wall sheathing and treated lumber prices have gone up more than other materials due to lower production rates at lumber mills. New home costs are also rising with the cost of lumber and could continue to rise sharply as more restrictions, such as Canadian tariffs on imported lumber, are put in place.

Why the Canadian Lumber Tariffs Are So Important


Come to Shur-Way Building Center for all of your building supplies, including lumber, fasteners, and other power tools.

The National Association of Home Builders recently put out a call for the Trump administration to “resume talks with Canada to find a long-term solution to the trade dispute that will ensure American home builders and consumers have access to a reliable supply of softwood lumber at competitive prices.”

The United States cannot meet the current lumber demand with domestic production. Therefore, to fill the gap between the demand of working families in America, we depend on imports of Canadian softwood lumber to meet demand. Since late 2017, the tariffs on imported Canadian softwood have hovered around 20%. This tariff acts as a tax on home builders and home buyers in the United States and is complicating demand and prices in an already tumultuous time.

Solutions Proposed by NAHB

The following solutions come directly from the National Association of Home Builders and detail a plan to help address the nation’s demand for softwood lumber.

  • Negotiate a long-term settlement with Canada to address American home builder concerns regarding price and availability of lumber. NAHB is meeting with representatives of the Trump administration and Congress, as well as Canadian federal and provincial officials, to achieve this goal.
  • Boost domestic production by seeking higher targets for timber sales from publicly-owned lands and opening up additional federal forest lands for logging in an environmentally sustainable manner.
  • Reduce U.S. lumber exports. Domestic producers are selling abroad to China and other international clients in order to increase profits. Lumber used in residential construction should remain in the United States while there is a gaping need at home.
  • Seek out new markets to reduce our nation’s reliance on Canadian lumber imports and make up for our domestic shortfall. NAHB met with Chilean government, trade and industry officials that focused on increasing exports of softwood lumber to America. Other actions should include identifying potential markets and working with countries already exporting softwood lumber to the U.S., to increase their exports here.

Come to Shur-Wood Building Center for Building Supplies

If you have a building project in mind but lack the skills or experience to do it on your own, we can help connect you up with a local contractor for your specific job. Want someone to put in your new floor from start to finish? We’ll help find that perfect person. Looking for more of a general handyman? We know plenty of them as well. As a local business, we pride ourselves on being connected to the community and always keep a selection of business cards from local contractors that can help you if you’d like.

Besides our numerous hardwood choices and unsurpassed selection of “off-grade” plywood, we’re a family-run business that focuses on unbeatable service with competitive pricing. Our small staff treats you like one us and have the knowledge and experience to make informed suggestions based on what has been successful for themselves and past clients. Along with our raw materials, we also carry high-quality tools, fasteners, and treatments to see that your finished project lasts for years to come. Come by today!

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